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Wits Art Museum exhibits rare artworks by William Kentridge

Wits University turns 100 this year, and the Wits Art Museum turns 10. As part of the celebrations, WAM presents an exhibition by William Kentridge, the internationally renowned artist and Wits alumnus who has played such a vital role in championing WAM’s creation and development.

William Kentridge exhibition Wits Art Museum
William Kentridge exhibition Wits Art Museum

WAM’s collection spans more than four decades, from 1980 to 2022, and comprises drawings, etchings and screenprints. Highlights include three etchings from the 1980 Domestic Scenes series exhibited at the Market Gallery in 1981; Tropical Love Storm, an important early charcoal drawing from 1985; Art in a state of Grace, Hope and Siege, the 1989 very large trio of screenprints on brown paper; the 1986/87 Hogarth in Johannesburg series of eight etchings; the title drawing for Sobriety, Obesity & Growing Old, Kentridge’s fourth animated film in the series Drawings for Projection 1991; and the 1993 – 98 large colour etching Yellow General

A few artworks with special connections to the university have been loaned for exhibition. These include Kentridge’s first bronze sculpture Man on a High Chair, 1984, that was made at the Wits Fine Art Department; Ubu Tells the Truth, 1996, a series of eight etchings made for the UBU +- 101 exhibition at Wits Art Galleries; and Asie Mineure, 2001 – 2003, included in Tapestries William Kentridge: A collaboration with the Stephens Tapestry Studio held at Wits Art Museum in 2014. 

An edited projection of Oh To Believe in Another World, Kentridge’s latest film which is based on Shostakovich’s 10th Symphony and commissioned by the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra in Switzerland is also on display, along with some of the original three-dimensional set models created to produce the film, giving the exhibition a richness and diversity for which this world famous multi-disciplinary artist is known.

William Kentridge exhibition Wits Art Museum

WJK: In black and white. And read all over

Deservedly, a great many books have been published by and about William Kentridge. On display are the Kentridge publications in the Jack Ginsberg Centre for Book Art holdings: monographs on this internationally acclaimed artist over 35 years, ranging from the 1987 Standard Bank Young Artists Award booklet to the most recent publication of 2021, William Kentridge: Domestic Scenes, a precursor to a multi-volume catalogue raisonné of prints. 

All of these books embody the rich visual and textual record of Kentridge’s diverse creative outputs, his frank conversations and inspiring lectures. The boundaries of Kentridge’s multidisciplinary works are masterfully smudged; by strategically applying creative interventions, many of the publications dissolve into the realm of the artist book.

UJ Art Books
William Kentridge | Portage | 2006 | The Artists’ Press; Johannesburg © The artist | Reproduced with permission

Kentridge’s artist books on display include Portage, an accordion-fold book with its chine-collé shadow-beings trudging along the verge of its found pages, animation drawings manifest as flipbooks and unbound works such as the theatrical stereoscopes and the revealing water-mark books on handmade paper. To name but a few.

WJK: In black and white is about word and image, his artist books and the wonderful art of the Kentridge monograph. The exhibitions will be open from 21 June to 12 August 2022.

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